If you visited Myanmar in the past, you may have noticed that tea dominated the menu at cafes. Very few places sold espresso-based drinks and it was hard to get anything other than instant coffee at hotels and restaurants.
Fortunately, that has all changed and coffee has been steadily growing in popularity among Myanmar residents. Coffee shops are found everywhere these days and even classic tea shops serve good, fresh brewed java. What may come as a surprise, however, is that a lot of this coffee is grown locally in Myanmar!
Myanmar has been growing coffee since the late 19th century but almost all of it was being used for instant coffee. Plantations were not well tended and beans were harvested only when they hit the ground, past the best date for good quality. Thus cheap, instant coffee was the easiest thing to produce.
A decade or so ago, foreign visitors began to realize that Myanmar’s coffee plantations had great potential. With investment and training from various organizations, the focus of coffee growers shifted towards higher-quality beans. These days there are several farms producing export-quality coffee and a few award-winning specialty blends.
In this week’s blog, the Odyssey team shares our three favorite Myanmar coffees and where to find them!
BEHIND THE LEAF: Behind the Leaf is a social enterprise supporting the Pa-O people, one of Myanmar’s smaller ethnic groups. The plantation is set in a stunning natural environment on the outskirts of Pinlaung, about 1.5 hours drive from Kalaw and Inle Lake. With the help of US Aid and other organizations, the Pa-O at Behind the Leaf are now growing some of the highest-quality coffee in Southeast Asia. There is a lovely coffee shop on site where cupping sessions can be arrange to sample a variety of the award-winning roasts and blends.
GENIUS COFFEE: Genius Coffee is one of the first plantations to focus on export-quality, specialty coffee. Starting in 2012, the Genius team began experimenting with processing and roasting their beans in different ways before finding the perfect recipe. Since then, Genius has grown into one of Myanmar’s best known coffee brands all the while keeping social responsibility at the forefront of their business. They have a small café at their roasting site in Ywar Ngan, a highland town around 2 hours from Kalaw or 1 hour from Pindaya. The café serves delicious coffee as well as Shan cuisine and fresh fruit juices.
CAFÉ MAYMYO: This small plantation has a loyal following of coffee lovers in Pyin Oo Lwin and nearby Mandalay. The young owner is passionate about his coffee and ensures the highest quality in his small batch production. The beans are not widely sold in retail stores, so the best way to sample Café Maymyo is at its namesake café in central Pyin Oo Lwin. The café is a popular gathering place for artisans and has a fabulous menu of drinks and food.
If you are ready to plan your Myanmar holiday, get in touch with our team of travel experts! Send an email ([email protected]) or give us a call on 09 269869090.